In 1953 Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. was created from the investment of five companies — Fuji Kogyo, Fuji Jidosha, Omiya Fuji Kogyo, Utsunomiya Sharyo and Tokyo Fuji Sangyo — as an aircraft manufacturing, sales, and maintenance company.
The CEO of FHI, Kenji Kita, decided he wanted to get involved with car manufacturing, and he began making plans with the name P-1. Deciding he needed something different, he went with the Japanese name, Subaru.
The first car produced was the Subaru 1500, and it had a 1.5 liter, four-cylinder OHV engine. But only 20 of these cars were manufactured because multiple issues with supply came up.
In 1958, the Subaru 360 was released as a passenger car with a distinctive individuality. At the time, Japanese automobile manufacturers were working on developing small “people’s” cars as recommended by the Japanese government. Subaru took up the challenge of building a small, affordable car that could perform well, and the four-passenger, four-wheel Subaru 360 fit the bill.
In 1966, FHI’s first compact passenger car powered by the boxer engine, the Subaru 1000, was released. This offered driving stability and a comfortable interior, in addition to technical features such as the front-wheel drive platform, a horizontally-opposed engine, inboard brakes, and an independent four-wheel suspension system.
They would go on throughout the decades to innovate and release dozens of models that appealed to everyone from families looking for a safe commute to those who liked to go off-road. Part of this innovation was due to many of the partnerships Subaru has had through the years.
In 1968, the government ordered the merging of the auto industry in Japan, believing it would improve competitiveness while operating under the Prime Minister. Nissan received 20.4% stake in FHI, and they planned on Nissan using Fuji Heavy Industries’ capability for manufacturing buses. In exchange, Subaru vehicles were to use parts from Nissan. This partnership can still be seen today in models released together such as the Nissan Pathfinder, the R-2, the Rex, the Leone, the BRAT, Alcyone, the Legacy, the Impreza (including the WRX), plus the Forester.
Nissan was eventually acquired by Renault in 1999, and their stake in Subaru was sold off to General Motors. Throughout their time together Subaru created the Baja and the Tribeca. Then in 2005, GM liquidated all of their holdings of FHI and more than 40% off GM’s stock was sold to Toyota Motors. Since that time, there have been a number of collaborations, including the Camrys, Toyota 86, and the Subaru BRZ.
In January 2014, Subaru reached 20 million units produced in Japan since beginning in 1958, and they hit 15 million units of AWD vehicles produced in 2015.
In 2017, FHI changed its name to Subaru Corporation, and the Subaru brand won the title for “The Most Trusted Brand” from Kelly Blue Book in 2018. This gave them their fourth consecutive win for having a combination of affordability, dependability, high safety features and all-weather grip.
And the company is all about love, namely the Subaru Love Promise. Their effort to create a world that is a better place than it ever was before. To do that, they signed a commitment to communities and customers stating they strive to make positive impacts in the world. Simply put, they respect and love all people and encourage others to do the same.
They’ve enlisted all their dealers to do it as well, and the company has donated more than $50 million in the last two decades to causes they believe promote love.